How often do you see a play when the stars of the show do not utter a word on stage?
How often do you see a show when you do not even see the faces belonging to the stars of the show? Well, if you go and see “War Horse” now playing at the Princess of Wales theatre in Toronto you will see both.
Two years ago our daughter was taking a course in England and she raved about this play she had seen at the National Theatre in London. We thought it was rather an odd choice as she abhors war and had never been a horse lover. So it was with some trepidation when she took us to see the all Canadian production as her Christmas gift to us.
We need not have worried because from the curtain rising to the cast taking their bows to a standing ovation, we were absolutely transfixed. The two prominent performers are the horses Joey and Topthorn; however the real stars are the puppeteers/manipulators of the horses, which operate in teams of three.
The story line is that of a foal bought by a rather incalcitrant Devon farmer to spite his brother. He gives the foal to his son, Albert, who names the foal Joey and trains him. Joey gets conscripted into the army for the First World War and is shipped to France. Albert enlists underage and sets out to reunite with his beloved horse.
The construction of the horses is magnificent. Incredibly they weigh one hundred and twenty pounds and support a rider. The puppeteers have obviously spent hours studying horses and are able to demonstrate every nuance. In fact, I got so entranced with the lifelike appearance of the horses, towards the end of the performance when was about to be shot I almost screamed “please don’t shoot the horse “
I am not a war aficionado and have never owned a horse, although I have ridden one, I can thoroughly recommend this show. In 2011, War Horse won six Tony awards, triumphing in every category in which it was nominated. One slight word of caution, there is a lot of loud gunfire during the war scenes, which could possibly disturb very young children. On the other hand there is a delightful role of an eleven year old French girl in the second act, charmingly played by a young girl from Burlington.
Tony Markin was born and educated in England. He retired after a thirty five year career in the Petroleum Industry. He has had stories and poems published in newspapers and magazines. He has performed in amateur dramatics in such iconic roles as the Queen of England, a Mad Scientist and a Pirate Radio DJ. He is an award winning gardener, an oeneophile, a classic rock music aficionado, a neophyte guitarist and has written lyrics to a blues song.
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